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Democrats Block Ernst’s Effort to Detain Violent Illegal Immigrants

Our laws can no longer prioritize illegal immigrants over Americans.

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) today spoke on the Senate floor and renewed her call for the Senate to pass Sarah’s Law to require federal law enforcement to detain illegal immigrants criminally charged with killing or seriously injuring another person. After Democrats obstructed her effort and advocated against detaining violent illegal immigrants, Ernst pushed back and promised to continue the fight to pass Sarah’s Law.

Eight years ago, on the night of her graduation, Sarah Root, a 21-year-old from Council Bluffs, Iowa, was struck and killed by an illegal immigrant who was driving drunk – three times over the legal limit. Due to a gap in federal law, Sarah’s killer was released by federal law enforcement and never faced justice.


Watch her full remarks here.

Ernst’s full remarks:

“Mr. President, President Biden has opened our homeland to the world’s criminals.

“Under his ‘leadership,’ over nine million illegal immigrants have crossed our southern border.

“Nine million people. That’s more people than the population of 75 percent of our states.

“Month after month and year after year, the Biden administration is shattering all the wrong records.

“For example, CBP has reported 1.6 million known got-aways in the last 3 years. A stark increase from the 1.4 million known got-aways we saw in a ten-year span from 2010 to 2020.

“And that’s just the known got-aways. Who really knows how many people have gotten past CBP undetected?

“These aren’t just numbers, folks. They’re people – that too often include violent criminals who harm Americans.  

“Hardly a day goes by without hearing of another American who has fallen victim to crimes perpetrated by the illegal immigrants the Biden administration has let flood into our country.

“We all read the stories of the illegals arrested on serious criminal charges and post bail, never to be heard from again.

“Everyone knows the story of Laken Riley, the 22-year-old nursing student beaten to death by an illegal immigrant who was in police custody in New York City before being let go.

“But this crisis only continues.

“Just last Friday, news broke that Raul Santana, a Mexican national who is in the United States illegally, had his bail dropped from one million dollars to one hundred thousand dollars.

“What did he do? Well, he struck and killed Washington State Trooper Christopher Gadd while driving drunk and high—at 112 miles per hour.

“For more than eight years, I have warned against the dangers of letting illegal immigrants – who have already broken our laws – roam the country and continue their lawlessness.

“I have repeatedly called on this body to step up and protect innocent Americans from criminals who are in our country illegally and pass my bill – Sarah’s Law.

“Eight years ago, Iowans Michelle and Scott Root woke up to every parent’s worst nightmare: their daughter, Sarah, was killed by a drunk driver.

“Sarah, a 21-year-old from Council Bluffs, had just graduated from Bellevue University in Nebraska with a 4.0 GPA. She had a bachelor’s degree in criminal investigations.

“She was headed home after celebrating her important life milestone with friends and family.

“She had her entire life ahead of her.

“But, like Trooper Gadd, she was struck and killed by an illegal immigrant drunk driving.

“Before the Root family could even lay Sarah to rest, her murderer posted a $5,000 bond, was released, disappeared, and has never been seen again.

“Mr. President, these tragedies don’t have to continue happening.

“Today, we can act to ensure no family will be subject to the pain and anguish Sarah’s parents have experienced every day for the past eight years.

“My bill, which is named for Sarah, would close the appalling loophole that let Sarah’s killer go free.

“It would merely require ICE to detain otherwise deportable illegal immigrants charged with killing or seriously injuring another person.

“It also requires ICE to inform victims and family members of necessary information pertaining to the investigation.

“Had Sarah’s Law been on the books when Sarah and Laken and Trooper Gadd were murdered, law enforcement would have to detain their killers, instead of opening the door for them to flee.

“The Roots, the Rileys, and the Gadds would have been kept up to date on federal immigration authorities’ efforts to remove their loved one’s murderers from the country.

“Simply put, folks, this should be easy.

“Sarah, Laken, and Trooper Gadd’s deaths are tragic and, unfortunately, doomed to be repeated, thanks to this administration’s broken and ill-informed policies and my Democrat colleagues’ refusal to take up this very simple legislation.

“Those who come here illegally and harm our citizens should, without question, be a priority for removal.

“It’s just common sense, folks.

“Otherwise deportable illegal immigrants who commit violent crimes in the U.S. should face justice.

“We can no longer prioritize illegal immigrants over public safety.

“We must pass Sarah’s Law to send this message loud and clear – for Sarah’s family, and for the countless American families that Sarah’s Law would protect.”